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Energy Industry Help for Customers in Lockdown.

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With households and businesses continuing to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Victoria, the Australian Energy Council wants the community to know help is available.

Energy retailers have a range of measures in place to assist customers experiencing payment difficulties.

The Australian Energy Council’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said: “For those customers doing it tough now and over the coming months – your energy retailer is there to support you.

“With 5 million Victorians returning to lockdown and spending more time at home this winter, household gas and electricity consumption looks set to rise.

“Keeping safe and warm at this time of year is critical and energy retailers will support those impacted by COVID-19,” said Ms McNamara.

Each retailer has assistance measures available, and while they might differ between retailers, they include:

▪ Payment extensions and payment plans

▪ Bill smoothing and other options to help customers avoid large bills

▪ Assistance with accessing grants and concessions

▪ Tailored advice on how to manage your usage.

“For impacted residential customers who cannot pay their bills as they fall due, retailers will also ensure there are no barriers to entering hardship programs. This means that long-term assistance is available on request.

“If you are worried about your bill contact your retailer as soon as possible. You won’t be disconnected if you can’t afford to pay, but a conversation with your retailer will help to understand your options.”

The AEC is flagging some easy ways to help reduce energy use over the next six weeks of lockdown.

“We know that winter can lead to higher than expected energy use for lots of Victorian households and there are a number of simple measures that, while they might seem insignificant, can actually make a real difference,” Ms McNamara said.

Measures include:

– Set your heating at around 19 degrees

– it is estimated that every degree over 20 degrees can add 10 per cent to energy use;

– Switch off lights and turn off devices and electronic equipment when not in use; – Close doors and close curtains and blinds, particularly when the sun goes down. Open curtains and blinds when the sun is out;

– Run washing machines and dishwashers when full, use the shortest possible cycle and when washing use cold water. Avoid using clothes dryers as much as possible; and

– Make sure you are on the best energy deal for your circumstances. In Victoria you can go to the State Government’s Victorian Energy Compare website.